Research In Motion, following its September introduction of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, has announced the availability of a BlackBerry Tablet OS software developer kit for Adobe Air.
Versions for Microsoft Windows and the Apple Mac are now available for download on the RIM Website, along with a BlackBerry PlayBook Simulator, also in beta, in Windows and Mac versions.
The PlayBook is RIM's enterprise-geared answer to the Apple iPad. It features a 7-inch multitouch capacitive display, a 1GHz processor, a 3-megapixel front-facing camera, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and WiFi connectivity through a user's BlackBerry smartphone.
"The BlackBerry PlayBook, with its dual-core processor and multi-processing OS, is a multi-tasking powerhouse that is also the world's first tablet to be built from the metal up to run Flash Player 10.1 and Adobe AIR applications in a fully integrated, fully optimized fashion," RIM CTO David Yach said in a statement.
In announcing the SDK, RIM described the BlackBerry Tablet OS as being "uniquely suited for tablet computing," though an executive confirmed that a version of the OS, which is based on QNX technology, will eventually also run on its smartphones, as the recently launched BlackBerry 6, and eventually a BlackBerry 7, is phased out.
In April, RIM first announced its intentions to purchase the QNX technology, which has been used by the automotive industry in millions of "infotainment" and telematics systems. Talking up the BlackBerry Tablet OS SDK, RIM added that the software also powers "mission-critical systems" on the space station and is used in government defense systems and medical devices.
The new SDK, with support for Adobe Air 2.5 and Adobe Flash Player 10.1, offers developers support for features such as the hardware-accelerated playback of video and graphics-intensive content in the browser and inside of AIR applications; user-interface components intentionally built to support touch-screen-based experiences; application notifications, allowing developers to bring AIR-generated events to the user's attention; and easy communicating between Air apps on the PlayBook, enabling developers to create what RIM calls "Super Apps."
Coming soon, RIM notes on its site, will be support for content and applications using Adobe Flash 10.1 and HTML5 with the BlackBerry PlayBook.
The PlayBook is expected to arrive in early 2011, reportedly following delays. In an Oct. 12 research note, Jefferies & Co. analysts added that during the second half of 2011, RIM will also launch a PlayBook 2 in two sizes that will include both 3G and 4G connectivity.
Support for Adobe's Flash technology sets the SDK-based OS and upcoming Android-running tablets, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab, apart from the Apple iPad, as Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been vocal about his refusal to support the Adobe software, which he's called outdated. Jobs recently also described the various 7-inch-screen tablets headed for market as "dead on arrival," prompting RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie to respond in a statement.
"For those of us who live outside of Apple's distortion field," Balsillie retorted, "we know that 7-inch tablets will actually be a big portion of the market."